As 2020 has come to a close, we thought about looking at the best bits of the year. But this blog has to be over 500 words, so that was out of the question. Instead, we have looked to something synonymous with happiness and hopefulness, as we begin a new year. I am of course, referring to Christmas.
Christmas has inspired some of the best and most iconic campaigns over the years, and always creates a sense of anticipation in the industry, with consumers eager see which route certain brands will take. 2020’s unpredictability and chaos meant that that applied more than ever, and we have taken a look at the work of brands outside of our agency this Christmas, and by echoing the immortal words of John Lennon, have queried, ‘So this is Christmas, and what have you done?’
Channel 4 #MerryDifferent
Obviously, 2020 was an unusual year, and the way brands have tackled that fact has been interesting to see. One example which we think effectively encapsulated the conflicting feelings of lamentation towards the pandemic, and celebration of Christmas, was Channel 4’s #MerryDifferent campaign.
It opens with Santa’s Head Elf breaking the disturbing news to his unusual office co-workers that, given everything that is happening, Santa is thinking about cancelling Christmas.
Upon turning to his co-workers (The Holiday Mascots comprising of the Easter Bunny; Tooth Fairy; St Patrick’s Day Leprechaun; Cupid and the Halloween Ghost) and asking them for ideas, the group descends into a bickering row as they argue how best to ensure Christmas goes ahead.
But a sense of calm is restored thanks to the appearance of a surprising and lesser-known character – The Pancake Day Pancake – who encourages the assembled mascots to see their different points of view as a positive, reminding everyone that we’re at our best when we appreciate one another for who we are as individuals.
Both light-hearted and satirical, while remaining sympathetic, this one was a real success.
Heart-warming narratives are the backbone of most successful Christmas ads, and Coca-Cola topped the tear-jerkometer this year with their ‘The Letter’ advert.
The ad is a hope-filled tale about a father’s unremitting love for his daughter and his journey to make her Christmas wish come true.
The film begins with the father preparing to leave home to go to work. As he is about to leave, his daughter hands him a carefully written letter to Santa, asking him to post it on his way. Busy at work, we see his realisation that he has forgotten to post the letter, and so his mission to ensure it is safely delivered to Santa ahead of Christmas begins. He sails across seas, scales sheer cliffs and wades through dense jungles before reaching the North Pole.
They didn’t hold back with this epic tale, but it seemed to hit the mark, with rave reviews all around.
Disney also launched a heart-warming Christmas advert, with this one telling the story of a grandmother, her granddaughter and the family traditions that connect them through the years.
The three-minute advert titled From Our Family To Yours, was created in support of children’s charity Make-A-Wish, and is both touching and sentimental, and is inspired by the themes of traditions, family togetherness and nostalgia.
You would expect something this good from Disney, but hats off nonetheless.
When you think of Christmas campaigns, adverts are the first things that spring to mind, but those brands who work outside of the TV limits have been doing their bit too. Alongside their main sponsors, 3 Mobile, Chelsea FC encouraged their fans to ‘Support Someone Else This Christmas’.
The campaign urged people to take time to reach out to our friends, family and loved ones over the festive period in a bid to shine a light on loneliness, isolation and mental health issues.
‘Support Someone Else’ saw the pair partner with 3’s long standing mental health charity partner Time to Change, which provides help and guidance to those that either want to participate or those that are themselves in need. A recent report released by the charity found that, on average, men have three fewer people in their support network since the pandemic hit, while some men cited not being able to meet face-to-face – such as at a football match – as a reason they had fewer people to turn to for support with their mental health.
A good example of using data to drive a meaningful campaign.
Christmas ads are always something to look forward to, and they have helped shape PR campaigns and brand identity for some of the biggest in the business.
Some other ones we loved included of course John Lewis’ ad using the magical tones of Celeste and encouraging everyone to give a little love this Christmas and McDonalds who inspired everyone to celebrate their inner child this year.
Whether it was by celebrating the universal love of Christmas, or bringing issues from the shadows to the light, these brands and organisations stood out this festive period.
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